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Derek

Panasonic Adds Two New Lenses to m4/3 Lineup


Panasonic today has announced two new Lumix lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, a 42.5mm f1.7 portrait prime and a 30mm f2.8 macro lens with 1:1 reproduction.

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The macro lens is properly the Lumix G Macro 30mm f/2.8 ASPH MEGA O.I.S. As mentioned just a moment ago (you didn't forget did you?) it's a true 1:1 macro, and with m4/3's 2x crop factor means it will have the final result of functioning like a 2:1 60mm macro. Not too dang shabby. The MEGA O.I.S. in the name means it has built-in lens-based image stabilization to help you keep things steady (though, if you're buying this to use on many Olympus bodies you'll want to turn it off, since it'll argue with the sensor-shift IS Olympus uses instead). Lens construction is pretty straightforward with 9 elements in 9 groups with just the one aspherical element mentioned in the name as the only exotic. Unlike the Olympus 60mm there's no weather-sealing here, and given the shots of it there'll be a lot less control in terms of focus limits too:

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You'll be able to pick one up for $399.99 in April or so, and that means this link right here will be for preorders until then:

http://robertscamera.com/catalog/product/view/id/53697/s/lumix-g-marco-30mm-f-2-8-asph-lens/

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The portrait lens is formally known as the Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH POWER O.I.S, and is also a reasonably standard affair. With m4/3's usual 2x crop it's a 50mm f1.7 standard lens, the OIS stabilization has the same caveats as the macro did, with the note that the "POWER" iteration is supposed to be up to twice as effective as the older "MEGA" version. Construction shows 10 elements in 8 groups, and once again just that lone aspherical lens from the name as the exotic. This, too, will run $399.99 but the availability is more like May. The link below will be a preorder until then, but if you're reading this from the future (is it everything we ever dreamed it would be, future citizen?) then it may in fact just go to where you can buy one right now. But at this boring "present" moment, it's a preorder instead.

http://robertscamera.com/catalog/product/view/id/53698/s/lumix-g-42-5mm-f-1-7-asph-lens/



Derek

Sigma's Global Vision Gets Wider with 24mm f/1.4 ART


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Sigma today has added another fast prime to it's ever-growing collection of incredibly well-regarded ART lenses. The 50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 have both met with nothing but rave reviews for build quality, performance, and optical quality, and we've got a lot of faith this newest entry is going to keep that up. To that end, continuing to widen things up, we have the new 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A. Like its siblings it's a beefcake of a prime, certainly not one of the compact ones of yore. The 3.6" length and 77mm filter aren't too terrible though by modern lens standards, and while 23.5oz sounds quite hefty it does speak well of the amount of glass to be found inside the lens.

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A promise which is indeed followed through on by the specs, with 15 elements in 11 groups making up the optical formula. To go crazy, 9 of those elements are specialty glass (2 aspherical elements, 3 FLD low-dispersion elements, and 4 SLD low-dispersion elements.) We don't have any empirical testing on it yet, but the MTF charts from Sigma look promising:

401_mtfchartIt will of course be compatible with Sigma's USB dock for fine tuning your AF performance for your camera and style. In Canon and Nikon mounts, availability and price TBD. Check out more on our site:

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A

 



Derek

Nikon Looks to the Stars with World's First Full-Frame DSLR for Astrophotography


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File this under "Cool, but pretty darn niche," but Nikon has announced a new astrophotography camera based on the D810, and dubbed reasonably the D810A. It's the first astro-specific camera we've had since Canon discontinued the 60Da, and the first of its kind to bring full-frame to the table. Unless you spend a lot of time looking at the stars this isn't going to be a camera for you, because while there are a lot of fine tweaks to earn it that "A" most of them won't matter for general shooting, and one of the main ones will actually make the camera less than ideal for anything other than long-exposure night shots. That change being the biggest part, a modification to the IR filter letting more of the IR spectrum (656nm) needed for astro-photography in (at the cost of probably adding a pervasive red tint to normal old daylight photos where you don't need that extended range). Other changes include manual shutter speeds all the way up to 900 seconds (15 minutes) before you have to break out the bulb mode and a virtual preview for long exposures to help you get your composition and focus right. Before you spend 15 minutes on the shot.

Nikon provides this table to break down the difference between the D810 and the D810A, but the big take-away is still that unless you're just shooting stars, you just want the regular model. If stars are your thing though, this is going to be the ticket.

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The D810A will be available in May, but Nikon doesn't have any pricing yet so stay tuned. If you're interested regardless of the future cost, check it out on our site:

Nikon D810A



Derek

Canon Brings the Resolution with New EOS 5DS Twins


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Well, we've all heard the rumors so we knew it was coming, and today's the day for it. Canon has come clean with the EOS 5DS and the EOS 5DS R, two megaliths of resolution with 50 megapixel full-frame sensors. Of course, you can't just more than double the resolution of a sensor without any consequences, and in this case the big thing to note is the 5DS twins are not gunning to be low light kings, their native ISO range is down to 100-6400 compared to the 100-25,600 range of the EOS 5D Mark III they build on. To that end, the 5D Mark III is going to remain in the line-up as the low-light choice, while the 5DS twins are best thought of as studio and landscape variants for people with more specific needs. Other than the ISO thing, Canon has done an admirable job keeping the compromises to a minimum in these new bodies. Dual DIGIC 6 processors will keep them humming along at 5 frames per second despite their currently-record-breaking resolution, although even on a UDMA7 card you'll see that top out at about 14 frames. There's still only so fast you can move 50mp worth of data after all. And, to make your decision between them and the 5D Mark III even harder, both sport the same stellar AF system debuted in the EOS 7D Mark II, with a 61-point AF system containing 49 high-accuracy cross-type points married to a 150,000 pixel 252-zone metering system.

Other than the giant bullet point of the sensor, the twins have only a few new features to offer over predecessors. Mostly small tweaks. There's a new customizable quick control screen for getting to settings you use often faster, and they are the first Canon's to offer time lapse video controls right in the camera (with programmable intervals from 1 second all the way up to just 1 second shy of 100 hours!).

The difference between the 5DS and the 5DS R is the same place Nikon was a few years ago with the D800 and the D800E. They are the same camera except the 5DS R effectively negates its antialiasing filter to maximize the possible resolution with the usual caveat of increased moire (but hey, thanks to Nikon breaking the ground here Lightroom has already provided a moire slider for years now, so, once it adds support for these you'll be good to go, right?).

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Oh, and hey, to go along with them Canon has also announced a shiny new EF 11-24MM F/4L USM super-wide angle lens. Didn't we just mention landscape photographers as an ideal market for these twins? Guess Canon thinks so too...

EOS 5DS

EOS 5DS R

EF 11-24MM F/4L USM



Derek

Olympus Announces OM-D E-M5 Mark II


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Presumably looking to make a splash Olympus has announced the successor to their popular OM-D E-M5 today, uncreatively named the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. There's a note here that I should always spell it out as "Mark II" and not contract it. So, there you have it. It's the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Take note of that and make sure to get the hyphens all in the right place, there'll be a quiz later and the ridicule of your peers if you get it wrong.

Moving on.

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The OM-D line continues to be Olympus' pro-oriented line of 4/3 mirrorless bodies. They still sport the same 4/3 size 4:3 aspect ratio 2x crop factor sensors Olympus cameras have since they went digital, and still uses the smaller m4/3 mount that's probably the best supported mirrorless mount on the market.

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And this is just the Olympus line-up. Panasonic, Sigma, and Lensbaby all also support this same mount

On paper most of the specs of the E-M5 Mark II don't differ much from the original. It's still a 16 megapixel LIVEMOS sensor, 5-axis image stabilization, weather-sealing, built-in wifi, yadda yadda. I suppose I could be boring and dwell on the fact that the rear display is now a vari-tilt model

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But, you'd probably rather hear about how the all-new 16mp sensor in this model can utilize that 5-axis image stabilization system to enable a 40mp high resolution mode, wouldn't you?

Yeah, I thought so...

Olympus seem to have taken a page straight out of Hasselblad's playbook and are using controlled sensor shifting and multiple exposures to yield a higher resolution picture without the consequences of squeezing more pixels onto the same chip (increased noise, decreased dynamic range, etc).  Unlike the Hassy it won't cost you $36,000 to play with this feature (though, I suppose, 40mp also isn't 200mp... let's just stop comparing apples to oranges now then...)

Other sensor improvements include dragging the native ISO range down to the curiously labeled "approx" 100, and still up at 25,600 on the top end. The shutter speed also gets a bump up to the proper 1/8000 and not the slightly less "ticks every box" 1/4000 of the original. It has received a minor bump from 9 to 10 frames per second, and a major bump in being able to shoot at the speed forever in RAW (subject to the card), and not just for 11-17 shots.

Oh, yeah, and remember how awesome the AF system was on the original? Well, it's got over double the points now, coming in at 81 areas and not 35.

Basically, the Mark II is a beast of a camera, especially for the $1,099.99 it's going to cost when it lands (body only in black or silver.) Hit the jump for more pretty pretty pictures, or the link below to go read more on our site and get your preorders in.

OM-D E-M5 Mark II

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Derek

Canon Updates Stalwart 100-400mm, Drops the Push-Pull And Ups The Sharpness


File this under "well, that took 16 surprising years" but Canon has graced our mornings with a shiny, SHINY new 100-400mm IS today.

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Pretty much everything about the lens that could be upgraded has been. The quirky push-pull is gone, replaced with a traditional twisting zoom ring. But the stiffness and response of that zoom ring is still customizable, so, you can tweak how racking your 100-400 out works best for you. It has also switched to internal focusing, giving it yet another touch of the premium the original model was oddly lacking. The optical formula has jumped from 17 elements in 14 groups up to 21 elements in 16 groups, which has added only a few millimeters to the product but a sure-to-be-felt half pound to the weight. The trade-off for the extra time in the gym is a drop in minimum focusing distance from nearly 6 feet to just over 3 feet (bumping the maximum reproduction ratio up to .31x), and MTF charts that promise big, big things:

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We'll have to wait and see how those pan out in the real world of course, but Canon is suggesting quite a notable increase in performance across the board at 100mm, with the sorta changes that will lead to it being visibly sharper across the frame. 400mm sees a less dramatic increase in sharpness performance, but should have a cleaner look especially in out of focus areas as they clean up the various astigmatisms on the graph a bit.

If you weren't already suspecting it, a new model with more glass and performance after a period of time long enough for an American child to grow up and start driving does come with a price hike. The new EF 100-400mm f/4-5,6L IS II USM will run $2,199.99 next month when it starts shipping, which is $500 more than the $1,699.99 price the outgoing model is sitting at. But chin up, Canonistas, that's still also $500 less than Nikon's equivalent offering in their camp.

If the price isn't too salty for you, and a better 100-400 is exactly the thing you've been waiting on, we're taking preorders now. No charge to preorder, and we'll call you once we have one for you and arrange payment only at that time. If you choose to or need to decline, you're free to do so and we don't tie up your funds in the interim.

Preorder a new 100-400mm II



Derek

Panasonic Announces New GM5 and LX100


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Two new cameras announced by Panasonic today, one an entry into their G line of mirrorless compacts based on the 4/3 system, and the other a rather thinly veiled competitor to Sony's RX100 line of large sensor compacts called the, er, LX100. Yeah... So, there's that.

The GM5 will be a new entry in their "fashion" conscious line of mirrorless bodies, and will slot in above it's older and lesser sibling the GM1. Most notable in the differences is the sprouting of an EVF on the GM5, as well as a hotshoe (using the same ISO-standard mount and pin configuration of all Olympus and Panasonic flashes.) Also of curious note is a maximum shutter sped of 1/16,000. Which is not something I read every day. It's a pretty solid shooter in other regards too, with a 16 megapixel sensor, ISO up to 25,600, a much improved AF system, built-in WiFi, and a continuous drive of almost 6fps. Release is Novemberish and it'll run $899 with a 24-64mm equivalent lens.

Lumix DMC-GM5 with 12-32mm

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The other camera, the LX100, is part of a quickly growing market of compacts with 1" sensors and fast lenses. The Panasonic entry is a step-up from its already tried-and-true LX series including the LX7, and will sport a 12 megapixel sensor behind a newly Leica-designed 24-75mm f1.8-2.8 equivalent lens. It has a high resolution EVF for still shooting, and on the video side does the regular HD twins of 720 and 1080, but is also ready to do 4K at 30fps. It'll turn in focus times as fast as .014 second, with the depth from defocus feature inherited from the bigger G series to help cheat a bit more subject/background separation from the still ultimately smaller sensor. It'll go as fast as 1/4000 second with the mechanical shutter and up to 1/16,000 with the electronic. Wifi, NFC, yadda yadda. And an $899 price tag this fall.

Lumix LX100



Derek

Canon Announces New G7 X, Three New Lenses, 2 Other New Powershots


The 7D Mk II wasn't Canon's only new announcement today. Oh no. They've kept me and my minion hopping this morning with a total of 7 new products. Sure, the 7D Mk II is probably the most exciting, but let's just give the others a quick skim here.

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Second most exciting is probably the G7 X professional compact. As always representing the high end of Canon's compact line, and aimed at being a support camera for pros, the G7 X sports a 20.2 megapixel Canon-Powershot-first 1" CMOS sensor behind a 24-100mm f1.8-2.8 equivalent zoom lens. The optical viewfinder has gone the way of the dodo still, which'll be a strike against it for a lot of you we know. To make up for it the LCD is a nice 3" mutil-angle touch model, though the usual complaints about daylight visibility we can't speak to from the spec sheet alone. For novelty, it has 4 new scene modes for capturing starry skies, and for actually being useful it has raw file support. Wifi is built in, and of course it does 720p and 1080p video.

It'll set you back a not-unreasonable $699.99 next month, we hope.

Preorder a G7 X

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Let's go ahead an knock out the other two PowerShots real quick, because while nice they're a bit more "another year, another camera" than most of today's announcements. The SX60 HS' standout feature is the  65x optical zoom (equivalent to 21-1365mm). It's got a 16mp sensor being piped through a DIGIC 6 processor, built-in GPS, and will run $549.99 next month. The N2 is the update to last year's funky square selfie cam, and, er, yeah. It's still a funky, square selfie cam. Built-in NFC and wifi set it up for quick social sharing, and an 8x zoom helps it, ah, zoom? It'll run $299.99 later this year, in black or white.

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Back to more interesting products we have an unexpected update to the 400mm DO IS, called as you might expect the  EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM. If you're not used to the green ring lenses here (and what with there only being a couple of them, and them being specialty as is we won't blame ya) the DO lenses use diffractive optical (DO) elements, which are schmancy exotics that raise the cost but lower the size and weight of the lens. The 400mm DO II will weigh only 4.8lbs, which is still half the weight of the 400mm 2.8 II, so, there's that. If you need a more affordable, lighter telephoto than the 400mm f2.8 II, but still have a bit of money to burn on a premium telephoto this might be worth a look, and will require you to drop $6,899.00 to add to your bag. Preorders while we wait on it to begin shipping are here:

EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

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Also new is a 24-105mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, which is their first full-frame zoom with a stepping motor for smooth AF in video mode. That's actually pretty much the sales pitch, it's a full-frame zoom with STM for smooth video AF though not particularly exciting aperture ranges, and it'll set you back a reasonable $599.99 for the combination.

EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

 

And, lastly, how about a 24mm STM pancake prime?

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You might notice it says "EFS" on there, so, full-framers need not apply here. But for you APS-C guys (like that new 7D Mk II) who'd enjoy a compact, light 24mm f.8, well, soon enough $149.99 will get you one. And it's STM to boot.

EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

 



Derek

About Time It Got Here: The Canon EOS 7D Mk II


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After what seems like ages of speculation and price drops and rebates on the original EOS 7D, Canon has finally announced the actually truthfully long-awaited successor to the EOS 7D. Sitting atop their APS-C line the EOS 7D line is aimed at professionals who prefer the weight and space savings of a compact body. And previously, that trade in size was at the cost of the absolute very best performance going, but if I'm reading that spec sheet right, the EOS 7D Mk II doesn't really come with any of those trade-offs.

So, I said it's an APS-C model, and to be specific it's of their beloved funky 1.6x crop factor. Full-frame shooters still need to look at the 5D or 1D X line. The sensor is a newly developed 20.2 megapixel model being piped through not one but two of those shiny new DIGIC 6 processors. As a result, you get native ISO of 100-16,000 (expanded 100-51,600) and 10 frames per second continuous shooting for 31 raw frames or 1,090 JPG. And, because fast shooting like that needs a strong AF system underneath it, Canon has drastically upgraded the AF module for this camera. It features 65 points now, and every one of them is the more accurate cross-type. EVERY. ONE. The center one is also sensitive down to -3EV, but really, can we go back to talking about how Canon fit 65 cross-type points on a sensor? I don't envy their engineers these past couple years, I'll tell ya that. To round out the imaging heart is a new 150,000-pixel RGB+IR 252-zone metering sensor, and a shutter life beefed up to 200,000 exposures.

So clearly the 7D Mark II is off to a solid start. Let's see what else there is in the announcement here. Hmmmm-hmm-hmm. Well, in addition to being a boss all cross-type AF system, it inherits the dual-pixel AF from its little bro the 70D letting it do contrast and phase detection at each point for smoother more accurate focus in live view and especially in video mode. It picks up the HDR and multiple exposure modes found in its full-frame counterpart, the 5D Mark III. Additional flexibility comes through the addition of an intervalometer and a bulb timer for those creative time lapse projects. The "Intelligent Viewfinder" has approx. 100% coverage, the LCD is a bit smaller than the going rate at just 3", but is at least 1,040,000 dots for making images look downright fuzzy as soon as you import them to your computer, and hey, it looks like GPS is built right on in there.

Video mode gets a bump, with it shooting in 720p or 1080p at up to 60fps, which it says enables it to do slow-motion capture at full resolution in either the ALL-I or IPB codec. You can also record in .MOV or .MP4, if you're into the more use-ready formats. A mini-HDMI port will pipe uncompressed stream to an external recording unit if you're looking to use this more professionally for your video workflow.

Canon's saying shipments will start in November, and you're looking at $1,799.00 body only or $2,149.00 with an 18-135mm STM lens. It'll use yet-another-new battery, the LP-E6N (though it will be backwards compatible with your LP-E6s if you have some), and a new battery grip, the BG-E16 (also works with the older LP-E6s), and a new wireless file transmitter in the form of the WFT-E7A Version 2. So, the camera itself is a nice price point, but if you want a grip or wireless transfer budget a little extra for accessories this time around.

Preorders? Eee-yup.

EOS 7D Mk II Body Only

EOS 7D Mk II with 18-135mm STM

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Derek

Is Nikon's New D750 the Full Frame You've Been Waiting On?


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Well, I must admit I was beginning to think it wasn't going to ever come. But, here it is, on my desk to talk about this morning: the long-awaited successor to Nikon's D700 (which is, disclosure, still my own personal workhorse camera).

The D750, the specs tell me, is a 24.3mp full-frame shooter with EXPEED IV and a native ISO range of 100-12,800 (or 50-51,200 expanded). It has newer Advanced Multi-Cam 3500-FX II 51 point AF sensor (with 15 cross types, 11 of which work down to f1.8 just dandy), and along with that gets the grouped target feature seen on other newer high-end Nikons. Nikon also claims it's their first that can work down to -3ev, so, even better for shooting in the dark. You get the updated 3D Color Matrix III module for metering, and around back the LCD is beefed up to 3.2" with 1,299k dots of resolution and new tilting feature. Full 1080p is on board (this ain't the Df after all), and it marks Nikon's first full-frame to have the WiFi built in (so you don't have to pretend you love the WU-1a anymore). Frames per second actually bumps up, unexpectedly, to 6.5frames per second. Shutter life remains rated at 150,000 frames. So, that's all definitely good news all around there.

Moving on to the more mixed news then. A keyword you'll see time and again for the D750 is "light." This is achieved by switch out some of the magnesium on the front and top for carbon fiber instead, in a 'monocoque' skinning process. The other mixed news is the specs still saying the flash sync is at 1/200 (boo) (but there's another note saying it can go to 1/250 if you want with decreased flash range between 1/200-1/250, which I can live with), and the top shutter speed drops a stop to 1/4000 of a second. So, those are some mixed bag things depending on your needs, and if you're a fan of cheating your sync to 1/320 or shooting at 1/8000 or all magnesium chassis this might not be the right shooter for you.

But I'd like t swing this back up to the brighter tone we started with by mentioning the price tag. The D750 will be available later this very month for just $2,299.95 body only. Or heck, if you're new to full-frame and need a good lens to get you going, get a 24-120mm VR with it for $3,599.95. It'll work with the new MB-D16 battery grip which'll run $485.

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Alongside the D750, Nikon has added a new AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED, and a new SB-500 flash. The lens is pretty much as it says, a fast wide angle full-frame prime, and is slated to run $799.95 this month. The SB-500 is a simple flash with 100 lux LED video light, 90 degrees bounce and 180 degrees rotation. It runs on just 2 AAs to keep size and weight down. Combined with the low guide number of 24m and the lack of LCD controls makes this appealing to people who just need an occasional flash indoors, but probably less so to your average hobbyist or pro. It'll run a pretty affordable $249.95, however.

Preorders can of course be had for the lot of this, so, I'll give you some links here:

D750 Body Only

D750 with 24-120mm

AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED

SB-500